Wayne Rooney has confirmed that he will retire from international football after turning down the opportunity to be part of the England squad in next month’s World Cup qualifiers. England manager Gareth Southgate had planned to involve the striker in the fixtures against Malta and Slovakia.
The 31 year-old earned 119 caps, scoring 53 times making him England’s all-time leading goal scorer. The Everton forward had recently stated that he was hoping his performances with the Toffees would help him regain a place in the national squad. However, after scoring twice in the first two games of the season, Rooney has decided to focus on club football.
His international career began in February 2003 appearing against Austria aged just 17, becoming England’s youngest player. His final appearance was a 3-0 win over Scotland in November 2016. Rooney had fallen out of favour to in-form strikers, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy but his season-opening form had looked to place him back into contention.
‘It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton and those closest to me.’
Wayne Rooney, August 2017
The forward burst onto the national scene featuring in the European Championships in 2004: from this point onwards, Rooney went on to figure in every international tournament for England. The forward spearheaded England’s attack for over a decade in which he was instrumental in qualification for competitions.
Having won every club competition possible at the highest level he may regret never winning a national tournament as is often the case with great players. Yet, his performances and dedication for his country is clearly testament to his character and ability.
Rooney is a player that will be missed in the England setup. His quality as a goal scorer and creator alone is something that puts him amongst some of our greatest ever England players. His leadership skills will also be greatly missed. His experience amongst younger rising talents is something that is invaluable to a relatively young squad with players just beginning their England careers.
He now passes his role on to players such as Harry Kane. However, Rooney ends a 14 year national career on top and will go down in the history books as one of our finest strikers. He is a player that England fans will forever be grateful for.
Rooney’s retirement has been met with kind messages from the football community…
Gary Lineker tweeted… England’s highest ever goalscorer calls it a day. Congratulations to @WayneRooney on a magnificent international career. A player’s player.
Fellow England Striker Harry Kane tweeted… an amazing player and goalscorer for @England. A three lions legend.
Former England Striker Michael Owen tweeted… Brilliant timing. Always great to go out on top. Well done @WayneRooney an International career to be proud of.
Wayne Rooney will forever be etched in the history books of England’s international set-up, his 53 goals alone justify such a statement, but Wayne wore the three Lions shirt with pride, and his performances are testament to this.
In 2002, the words “Remember the name, Wayne Rooney” were cried out in Sky Sports’ live coverage of Everton v Arsenal, as Rooney belted a thunderous shot into the top right corner to make it 2-1 to Everton.
15 years later, after an iconic, trophy-laden career, Wayne Rooney is a name we’ll all certainly be struggling to forget.
Written by Dom Holt.